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(2014) European philosophy of science, Dordrecht, Springer.

Probabilistic epistemology

a European tradition

Maria Carla Galavotti

pp. 77-88

Probabilistic epistemology holds that probability is an essential ingredient of science and human knowledge at large, and that induction is a necessary constituent of the scientific method. Developed in some detail by a number of authors including Patrick Suppes, Richard Jeffrey and Brian Skyrms, this view has been embraced by so many, as to gradually become predominant. While probabilistic epistemology has been growing, awareness of its origins was somehow left behind. Probabilistic epistemology is usually seen as a product of the encounter of logical empiricism with American pragmatism. Without denying the impact of such an encounter, it is argued that the probabilistic approach was already part of the European scenario before the dissolution of logical empiricism in the late 1930s. Notably, such an approach is not linked to a particular interpretation of probability, having been endorsed by upholders of different probability notions, including Janina Hosiasson, Frank Plumpton Ramsey, Bruno de Finetti, Harold Jeffreys, and Hans Reichenbach, to mention only those authors whose contribution is addressed here. The list could extend to the French probabilists Émile Borel and Maurice Fréchet, and others not considered in this survey. The work of so many authors operating at the four corners of Europe in the first decades of the 19th century reflects a European tradition in probabilistic epistemology, somewhat overshadowed in the literature by the attention paid to logical empiricism.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-01899-7_6

Full citation:

Galavotti, M. (2014)., Probabilistic epistemology: a European tradition, in M. C. Galavotti, E. Nemeth & F. Stadler (eds.), European philosophy of science, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 77-88.

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